Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Signs of Spring and Summer

I've watched the Blogger's Quilt Festival from afar before but this year I've decided to actually enter. It's inspired me so much and now I get to be a part!

For me this quilt is so simple but it represents a real sense of progress for me. I know that it's probably not considered "advanced" or "intricate" but all the points are good, the borders were the right size, it's the first quilt I did entirely freehand on my frame, and also? I used up every single bit of the fat quarters. It's officially a stash-buster. I think back to my very first quilt, paper pieced and sweet but not really "me." And then there's this one, it's *all* me and it's currently draped over my love seat bringing screamingly bright spring and summer into my house even when it's thundering outside.

When I first saw the Dulcinea Schnibble I loved the soft colors of the original. But when I went to make it the fabric that called me was altogether NOT soft. I went with Deb Strain's "Fresh Flowers" along with some scraps of Fresh just to use them up. I finished it a while ago but just managed to get the binding on it last weekend.

With Steve not around to help with the holding-up duties, and given that it's a Schnibble, I enlisted the help of a Schnibble-sized helper. Clearly she gets her quilt display skills from her father. (I tried to pick just one of these pictures but I swear I just couldn't decide)

And for those who like their quilts in a more wearable fashion:

I was going to ask her to show off the new top I made her but clearly that will have to wait for another day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A day in the life of a quilt

When last we met it was roughly noon and I was chain piecing the second points on my stars. the more I worked at it the more precise I got. I've never done one that was "perfect" but I feel good about how I improved and I only felt the need to redo two or three of the points in that second chain piecing run!

1pm - Time to press them back, trim them off, and press them open. Which sounds like some kind of horribly sadistic aerobics move from the 80's.

There's our babies, all in a row in sets of four. This picture is specially courtesy of the acrylic extension table that comes standard with my new sewing machine. I have a Janome Horizon and I'm a total convert. My clunky basic machine still works like a champ but it's so LOUD. With this one? I'm like a sewing ninja. Soooo quiet.

Now it's time to get the three strips of this star done. Do you guys do them like that? I do two side strips and the center strip with the big square.

2:15 - I'm on my last set of strips to chain piece and then I'll press the seams open and get ready to complete the stars. It always seems like stars take forever and then suddely you have a whole pile of them. I love that moment.

I know what you're thinking. An hour and 15 minutes to chain piece so few stars? Let's be fair,

At some point I did need to have lunch. In this case I polished off the last of the small vat of chili that Steve and I made when The Small Demanding One went off to Camp Grandma. It was so good and just the boost I needed.

Pause for a moment to admire the little details: mud splattered pull-behind bike trailer for the little girl to go on bike rides with her dad? Check. Netflix app running on my iPhone? Check. Seriously, y'all. I'm lucky I'm grandfathered into the original unlimited plan because I use my phone more for TV and movies than I do for phone calls. By a factor of about 10:1. Kitchen table I made myself from scratch? Check? (do *not* look at the big spot where the stain didn't soak in right) Lunch being eaten from early 80's Tupperware? Awww yeah. It's all about the details.

3:15 - At this point I've got all the sections of the stars pinned together and just need to finish piecing, separate and press them. It's starting to look like I'm making some progress.

And before you say anything, yes, my pins are organized in my pincushion. It helps me find the ones I want without digging around. Don't judge.

While we're at this point let's talk about why I'm now a huge fan of pressing my flying geese open. Also why I love both my sewing machine and my camera. Probably especially my camera.

See that spot right at the top of the point? That's where I want to stick my needle. I's not as easy for me to see the sweet spot when I'm working with seams pressed to one direction or the other.

Pretend I remembered to blow he dust off my 1/4" foot before I took that picture, please. Also this one:

Bingo, right on the spot. In this shot you can see my only gripe with the Horizon, see how the right feed dogs aren't actually fully under the side of the foot? It doesn't throw me off, but c'mon, how hard would it have been to notice that and fix it?

4:15 - All the stars are done and pressed open.

At this point I stood up to stretch my back and looked outside. For just a week or so this:

was outside my window. I love this tree, it was blooming like this the day we closed on the house and it always reminds me of that lovely day. I snatched up my camera and headed outside for a while.

I smiled and sat in the grass for a bit, I farted around on the internet, I enjoyed how quiet my house was for he moment. Then I got back to the grindstone.

5:40 - The borders for each star block are in opposing groups. Two short ones on each of two opposite sides, then one long one on each of the other two sides. At this point I've got all the short ones pieced together and pressed open and I'm getting them on to the star blocks.

Happiness is a total chain piecing pile-up. Okay, let's get these puppies finished.

6:30 - Whew. Done. With the blocks, I mean.

They go with absolutely nothing in my house but they make me SO HAPPY. Let's try out some layouts. I counted the blocks and decided that I wanted one longer as opposed to square, that narrows down my options.

6:45 - This is what I've settled on. I'm loving it.

So let's get it together, eh?

9:20 - Strips sewn together.

I know, I know. You're like "What the hay, Melly? It took you almost three hours to do that?" No, but a girl's gotta eat, yo. I stopped for dinner and a little TV and a phone call with my mother that went on for like 45 minutes but I can't remember a single thing we talked about (I love those calls). Anyway, it was time well spent is what I'm saying. I make up for the delay by being able to say....

9:45 - Done.

It's all together and just waiting for the laser stylus to arrive so I can give it a fun swirly all-over and make sure it gets to Project Linus. I love it and the idea that it may go out into the world and brighten someone's day is why I'm in this hobby.

My favorite star? I'm glad you asked.

Isn't it just so... happy?

Now, what have we learned today?

The secret to better piecing is sadly not a new tool or book or machine or even pixie dust. Just like everything else the secret is patience, persistence, and practice.

I'm a big fan of pressing my seams open. It's more work but I the results were worth it. And with the time I saved by *not* having to do some stuff over I may have done a nice break even on the time spent.

And finally? Atkinson's patterns are perfect for fat quarters. In fact she even details how many blocks you'll get out of how many fat quarters and what kind of layout you can make with that. Do keep that in mind and count your FQ before you cut. Lest you end up like me:

with two leftover blocks. Pillowcases perhaps?

And for a sneak peak of what's next, a fantastic busting of my stash of oranges:

Have a great evening, gang!